1964-07-02 - Act XVI: Loki Bound
Summary: In which the Asgardians and their friends learn not everything is at it seems from the Queen of Hel.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
kai lambert thor amora carol-danvers loki hela rogue 

Note: Hela brought to you by Rogue.

Thor shifts uneasily, looking as if he would /vastly/ prefer to be in his armor. But as a concession to the pretense of being there on peaceful terms, Thor wears only the garb customary for the royal family; a sleeveless tunic and a short white cape, to signify a lack of violent intent.

Of course, Mjolnir is not out of reach and his armor is equally close; but still, the prospect of going into Hela's realms surreptitiously sits ill with him for any number of reasons. He stands slightly apart from the rest of the crew, ignoring the heat and press of the winds as it assails his skin, and waits for Loki to begin leading them out of the desert.

Lambert looks much as he usually does when not cooking - Cool Dude sunglasses, a varsity letter jacket, jeans, sneakers, and a huge mop of fleecy pale hair with a broad tanned face. He has no weapons, magical geegaws, or special tools. The backpack is, however, stuffed with satyr-brewed wine in stoppered bottles, freshly baked food, wine, a spanikopita pie, baklava, honey, a fluffy picnic blanket, some nice forks, and some wine. Also a couple of pomegranates just in case - he is Greek, not Norse, and you never know when you're going to have to spong a God of Death in the schnozz with a pomegranate. He is smiling brightly, and following Loki trustingly, like a good scapegoat.

Captain Marvel, aka Carol Danvers, actually flew to Nevada, since she's way faster than any plane currently in existence. She soars down to the designated meeting spot, stopping to hover just a foot or so off the ground as she looks around at everyone else, "Okay, so… do we just say the elvish word for friend and enter, or what's the plan?" She looks over at Thor, a bit of relief on her face as she recognizes the Thunder God from the other day. Then she notices the tunic and cape on Thor, and hrms, "Ah, do I need to change into something else?" Since, well, her costume isn't exactly Asgardian Formal Wear.

Loki is no not seeming like he's under the pretense of peace. He is in his full regalia, from flowing green cape, leather that moves like butter across his skin, with armored plates at his forearms and shoulders, and of course, with his horned helm atop his head, forcing his black hair into wisps around the edges of this. "You look stunning as you are, Danvers. Lambert. Brother." He nods. "We walk through. Take heed of where we enter, as that is also the way /back/." And then he strides forwards, currently weaponless, but that is unlikely to be true.

Amora arrived as much as she was wont to arrive, in a cloud of swirling magic of green hues. Fresh from whatever it was that she'd been up to, she discarded a cloak with a roll of her shoulders, the fabric vanishing into nothingness as she approached Thor with a swing of her hips and a smile all of her own. "I had not intended on coming with this little ventures." A twist of her lips followed, "But I was bored."

A glance was offered toward Loki, her own signature green armor was in place, if anyone could call a corset ringed in golden edging and a tiny fraying around her hips as armor, that is. She pushed her hair back with a wave of her hand and promptly made to try to lean against Thor. She reached out to pluck a stray thread from his tunic. "Lovely as always darling."

A windswept block of red sandstone leaves a barren stain on the Nevada landscape. Scrub gathers close to its base, the hardiest of plants struggling to thrive in the hot, unforgiving conditions. Pushing against the unyielding surface is next to being scrubbed and scoured clean by the roughest sandpaper. Any bare skin not immune to harsh abrasion will come away red and bleeding after passing through a snaking tunnel that dips down. The moment when the ground falls away isn't possible to anticipate. It simply does.

And they fall.

Thor and Loki alone have much chance of catching sight of coiling scales. Amora sees a flicker of leaves. For the rest, they're plummeting through featureless darkness in a fall that does not stop for a very long time.

The landing is bound to be an ugly one, slamming into the icy waste covered in a thick fog blotting sight of anything more than an arm's reach away. They cannot see one another. Sounds are muffled considerably. And it is bitterly, bitterly cold. Here the void birthed ice. Subarctic temperatures are considered a nice day.

Thor lands hard enough that it hurts, but the big Asgardian's built of stern stuff; mostly his pride is injured.

He's on his feet quickly, the warrior in him looking around for sign of friends or foes. He grips Mjolnir and whips it in a fast, blurring circle, creating a mini-cyclone designed to clear the air immediately around him and dissipate the fog in short radius.

Lambert lands, with a big _whuff_ - but he landed on his belly. Winded, the satyr-kin gives a wheezing noise, and then he says something filthy in Greek and stands up, arms windmilling. Suddenly he shoves his hands into his pockets. It is _cold_. Lambert makes a 'brrrr!' noise and is likely grateful for his fleecy scalp "Hello?"

Captain Marvel oofs with a thud as she lands on the icy wasteland. Slowly she picks herself up, shaking her head a bit, "Well… damn, I never thought I'd think outer space was actually warm." She frowns a bit, looking around the surrounding terrain now that the fog is swirled aside in the immediate area. "I always wondered what Pluto would look like to stand on."

Loki lands on his feet on the dark landscape, his green eyes cutting over to Thor, to whom he nods as the dust starts to buffet away. He moves forwards a few steps, then reaches down to hoist up Lambert. "Danvers!" He calls, until he can see her as well, then nods. "I know another way out. We are not trapped here. I need only find my bearings when we are done. And, of course, since daddy loves Thor so much, we may be able to just call on Heimdal." He lifts his chin and then starts striding forwards.

The leaves caught her attention and she squinted as she fell, a hand reaching out briefly before she pulled it back. Amora lands hard, enough that she was forced to stumble to catch herself so that she did not fall on her face or roll her ankle. Her magic blunting the worst of it in a sprig of green smoke, that sunk deep into her skin in a protective manner before it slowly morphed into a fur lined cloak. A sigh followed from her and she glanced around, at least they weren't going through Nagrindr.. still, the lack of clear sight to the others set her teeth on edge.

The Enchantress held her hand aloft, a green light trickling through the gloom around her as she kept her tongue and tried to locate the others to follow after them after the Thunderer's hammer spun about.

The swirling mists held back by Mjolnir only reveal how cold, barren, and desolate the icy world is. White in many shades not quite grey is revealed there to Thor's eyes. For others, the slippery terrain is treacherous and invites falling over on the shockingly sharp ice. Underfoot the ground isn't even that stable, crackling and moaning as some great berg adrift on mountains or the sea.

Thor grabs Lokis' arm at Loki's tart dig, and stares at his brother. There's a rare expression on Thor's face— fear. Real fear, though tempered very well. "For /once/, Loki, stifle your slings and arrows," he says, through gritted teeth. "This is a journey of peril unlike any we've ever experienced." He shoves Loki away and looks around, whistling low for the others to follow his tune and find him. He glances upwards, face paling at the distant sight of scales the size of boulders receding into eternity as the Great Wyrm wends elsewhere. He shudders. "Come to me, my friends, and move sure and swift as hunted game," he calls, as loudly as he dares. "We must not attract undue attention."

"Hwuff!" says Lambert, surprised when his somewhat cuddly - and heavy - form is easily lifted by the Asgardian. "Who's your daddy?" he asks Loki as he finds his feet, a legitimate question decades before it becomes a meme. The satyr considers, then digs in his bag for his picnic blanket, and knots it around his shoulders. He regards the uneasy ground underfoot and kvetches "Oh, so I'm the only family member without hooves - and of course, I'm the only one who _needs_ them-" Complain, complain. Then Loki gets to see Lambert's goat ears go straight up, and he leans out and sniffs, then crouches down and sniffs a bit, before he says "…there's some sort of wet animal out there, Loki. Like, I don't know. Unwashed…shaggy dog?"

Carol tilts her head, flying up a few feet in the air as she stays close to Thor and the rest of the group, "Hey, I can hear something. Sounds like… a river? Or rapids? It's coming from that direction." She points towards what might be described as the west, based on their current orientation anyway. "Barring anything else, that might be a place to start?" When Lambert speaks though, she narrows her eyes a bit, "Wolf?" She knows a little of Norse mythology, considering Loki once made himself SHIELD enemy #1 a while back, even if Loki rather denounced most of that as fairytales made up by Fandral…

"Hounds of Hel, perhaps. Yes. We should, as my brother suggests, keep moving. The river. That's useful. We go to the bank and we will find a crossing." Loki nods with his horned helm and gestures with his hand. A few paces and he comments to Thor, "I did not mean to jab at you, brother. I am only speaking of the truth. I asked Heimdal for his helm when I was captured by Malekith, and it was refused. I only say that for you…they would open the bifrost." Green eyes rest grimly on his fairer sibling for a moment, and then he starts moving in the direction indicated by Carol.

Amora tugged a hand over her cloak, drawing it over her hair and holding it against the chill. They might not have been wind, save for what Thor stirred, but she kept it none the less. "Loki. We may need to awaken one of the dead to lead us." She offered, her lips pursed. "There should be graves of Volva passed that might be awakened and lead us through this fog." She added after a moment, finally breaking her silence.

A glance around her followed again and she exhaled, her breath clouding in the air around them. "Tis most fell.." She muttered under her breath. She crowded closer to Thor as he called them, her green eyes wary. The mention of a wolf and hounds had her eyebrows climbing upwards.


Thor offers Amora a hand as she joins the group, perhaps un-necessarily, and squeezes her fingers as he helps her into the proximity of the hammer. It's a tradeoff between the wind chill or the cold fog, so Thor errs on the side of visibility and keeps up the low, steady breeze. "Aye, 'tis my guess," Thor agrees. He takes a steadying breath. "Well. Let us not tarry. Follow me, and try not to look… too suspicious," he says, glancing around the crew. "We are here as diplomats, at least in theory."

With an expression that says 'I-can't-believe-I-said-that', Thor starts trudging towards the only visible landmark— the green and black spires of Hela's keep, barely visible through the muddied fog around them.

Lambert glances at Carol, with his usual smile, which does fade a bit at 'wolf' "Er, I hope not," he says "I already feel like half a side of frozen mutton. I'm not sure it's wolf. The air is damp, that helps, but it's so heavy…" Then he pads along behind the others, shooting looks at all of them with their complex, magical abilities.

Still the clotting mists make any sense of direction difficult. So too the phantom sounds heard by confounded ears and addled brains. The shimmer of harp strings emanates in the distance, a snatch of a soothing song. In another, laughter and the clank of tankards, the creak of jesses and leather straps in metal rings. Ice snickers in its complaints, especially under the Asgardians' weight. Even Amora leaves spiderwebs crunching through its surface, spreading out in wide cracks that melt over.

The route is not easy. It may be ten minutes or three hours to grow closer to the aqueous melodies churning and gnashing at the distance. Once the rhythm of the river is heard, however, how could anyone not know it was there? Keening, groaning, the waters clash on the rocks and carve through the belly of creation. It's audible long before visible. A thin cleft in the permafrost forms a guide only about twenty yards out from a shape taking its appearance in the gloom….

Carol stays a few feet off the ground, flying point as she keeps her eyes moving back and forth. She frowns, "Okay, I am not reading any more Tolkien before coming to the Lands of the Dead. Eesh." She can't help but shiver a bit, though she gives Lambert a smile, "This is pretty strange to me too… wait, is that a bridge?" Her eyes narrow a bit, as she points towards the Gjallerbru.

Loki frowns as Thor takes over and everyone else is able to see what he is so desperate to see. Still, there's nothing else to do but to become the follower to their better and more knowledgable guidance systems. He is castrated by fate and circumstances, and there's just nothing left to do but follow and see what happens. "A bridge is what we need." He nods, moving in that direction. "I hear something like a great beast…" he whispers, "with chains. Move faster…I have no idea what it could be."

Amora gripped the offered hand, squeezing it back, her own was whitened with dread. "We are near to Gnipahellir, Gnipa Caves if we are not wary, this must be the river Gjoll.." She closed her eyes, "The gates. We must pass through them first." She strained her hearing to the song that lilted through the air well beyond them. Her grip on Thor's hand went slack for a moment and she inhaled sharply at a voice that she picked out. Her heart twisted and then she gripped at Thor's hand all the tighter, her eyes going wide as she stared at the landscape ahead.

A glance followed over the golden haired Prince, waiting to see if he heard what she did as well. Yet she didn't speak of it, not outright. Though there was tension in the line of her shoulders. "The bridge is kept by the guardian.." She had studied well, learned at Karnilla's side. She knew the process the newly dead would take and did not enjoy the thought of crossing that bridge herself.

Nothing presents an immediate sign of life - or death - along the banks of the Gjoll. The darkened entrance to the magnificent, glittering bridge goes unguarded. Far from brooding, its soft sheen holds something of an inviting, familiar element regardless of background. Though someone most definitely does guard the way, deep within, a maiden curling her fingers round a spear that crosses her body in eternal wait. A hammer rides one hip, an axe at her back, and no doubt she has swords as needed. Modgud waits in her vigil.

So, there's another hunter out there in the chill darkness. That little kaleidoscope of fractured personalities has turned again, so what's coming up on the banks of the dark river is a man in a dark gray military surplus coat, over the dark fatigues with neither insignia nor emblem. He's even found one of those masks, complete with goggles designed to deal with the low light and darkness. The red star on his arm is heraldry enough. Winter's driving, inasmuch as he can….and he's come armed for bear, with a rifle slung over his shoulder, pistols, blades, and even a handful of grenades at his waist like Kali's belt of skulls. No attempts at being silent, he wants his allies to hear and see him coming, as he approaches at that ground-covering wolf's lope.

"Damn," Thor mutters. He glances at Loki. "Seems we did not slip deep enough past those lines. We must cross the bridge's span." He grips Amora's hand firmly in reassurance and lifts his hammer at Carol in reassurance, before looking to Lambert and nodding encouragingly. Putting on a good face.

He turns to look at the others. "We are entering into the heart of Hela's realm, and we cannot bypass her guardian," he explains, making no effort to hide his voice. "She guards her bridge as zealously as Heimdall and is a foe I do not relish crossing blades with. Stay behind me until contact is made and we are invited to cross, and whatever happens, do NOT interfere," he says, in particular giving Amora a stern look. He releases her hand and starts walking forward until he's a good ten yards ahead of everyone else, with his heavy boots treading on the ground.

Thor exhales, pinching his brow heavily, and raises his chin. He starts whistling melodically. "Frynyr! Here boy!" he calls. A massive white wolf appears out of nowhere, silent as a shadow, and takes Thor full across the chest, knocking them both down. And it starts savagely licking Thor's face, tail wagging happily. "Down, beast!" Thor says, getting to his feet. "Mogdug! 'tis Thor! Have you a moment for parlay?" he shouts to the bridge.

Lambert's expression suddenly heightens, and his animalistic ears flick forward. He can hear something, and his lips move a little, and then he looks to Carol, and he says to her "It's definitely some seriously strange stuff - can…anyone else hear that?" And he translates, on the fly, the songs making it to his ears "'Again love, the limb-loosener, rattles me bittersweet, irresistible, a crawling beast. As a wind in the mountains assaults an oak'…no, wait. Now another one - er. Ah…ahaha!" Lambert looks _delighted, and he then murmurs along, Ancient Greek spoken. Unfortunately, Koine spoken in front of Asgardians, so the Norse Gods get to hear how completely randy this particular hymn to the powers of creation is. Apparently Lambert's people know a truly astonishing number of words for 'orgasm'. Now, so do they. Lambert chortles along before some idea strikes him cold "Not wolves. A dog. It's a _dog_. Of course it's a dog - er…if. Anyone hears sort of. Three dogs at once, we need to trip trap over that bridge goat-style pronto." When Thor nods, he smiles, but nervously. And nods. Lambert has no idea what to do down here (aside from sing filthy songs of praise), so he looks to them, Loki as well. He coughs.

Captain Marvel settles down to be just an inch or two off the ground, still hovering considering the treacherous nature of the icy surface. She blinks, "Wait… I hear Kree… a cacophony of transmissions and noise." And, cutting through it all, a familiar sound and shape seems to be advancing through the fog. Carol raises her fist, energy starting to swirl in a golden light around her hand before she stops, growing pale as she recognizes the approaching shape as…

"Bucky?" Her voice is little more than a whisper, as the light around her fist flickering out in an instant as she loses her concentration at the sight of that man. Soldier or not.

"Approach, Odinson. Though you could have done by telling me to expect a procession." Her voice rolls through the curving struts with their proud dragons' heads that form each segment of that bridge. Modgud's summons has a little more restraint than the massive white wolf and its crystalline eyes. She stirs herself from the bench that spins down into the floor, leaving her maximum room to stand. White braids sway and her fur-trimmed armour creaks only a little. Her frosty eyes move past Loki and Amora, on through the floating woman and Lambert humming his little tune. Her laugh is hearty and warm. "One with your musical tastes, Thor! No wonder you brought him to me."

The wolf pricks one stiff ear at the assembled. His disproportionately large size could well make him a puppy of Garmr. Or, a mountain. Modgud holds her spear casually to the side. "Tell me why you come to Gjollarbru. The one clanking up behind you like the Destroyer, too."

Loki tightens his jaw as he moves along gracefully. "A dog with three? Someone has been borrowing toys." He mutters. As Thor, once again, is the shining star, his lips pinch tightly. He looks behind him when he hears the name Bucky, and he seems relieved. Not that Bucky is the heaviest hitter, but at least he's loyal and smart. As Thor has demanded, he's quiet while the big man has a personal and joyous reunion with the crossing-guard.

Amora released Thor's hand with a grit of her teeth and a sharp squeeze of his hand. Her features were twisted with worry, green eyes lingering upon the Thunderer as he stepped over the threshold of the bridge and toward the guardian and the wolf. She fell silent, crossing her arms as she watched. She stepped up toward Loki, her voice dropping into a low whisper as she cupped a hand to her mouth and spoke to the Trickster.

"I hear Sif amongst the dead." A pause, "Tell me you know a way beyond the gates to return to the upper worlds."

Arguably, he is a shade. How many times *has* this guy died? Killed by Germans, by SHIELD, by the dark elves. Winter's pace doesn't alter, not until he's come up on the flank of the party. Only then does he slow and then pause, behind and to the side of Loki. Carol gets a murmured, "Yes," and no more. Still masked and goggled…he's even got a watchcap, so there's only the pony tail to betray that it's really him.

"Nay, he can at least carry a tune," Thor tells Modgrud, grinning lopsidedly. A clasp of the wrist is offered and a hug exchanged, though it lasts perhaps a bit longer than one strictly between casual friends.

He looks behind him at the sight of the Winter Soldier… winter soldiering, but Carol seems to know him and Loki's relief speaks volumes. "Aye, an… ally," he tells her. Late and moving with due haste." His smile drops and he faces her with a small bow. "Pardon my rudeness, old friend, but I am here on a mission of mercy. I and my party beg passage to your Lady's halls to negotiate for the release of a spirit trapped here. Will you permit us to visit her?"

Lambert beams at the woman as she addresses him, and he adjusts his blanket-cloak, and he stays near Loki. No offence, mutants and Gods, but the guy _he_ knows is this one. Also, that is a giant wolf. A _giant wolf_. Lambert mutters to him under his breath, so he has Amora in one ear, and Lambert in the other "Did I bring enough wine?" Then Bucky comes up behind them, and Lambert skitters sideways, before he realises no one else is freaking out. The satyr mutters "I didn't bring _enough_ wine." Low, low voice.

Captain Marvel reaches out and places a hand on Lambert's shoulder, whispering, "It's okay, I wouldn't partake anyway." She gives Bucky a bit of a wide berth, conflicting feelings evident on her face as she avoids looking at him while waiting for Modgrud's word before attempting to cross. Instead, her eyes look curiously at the Guardian of the Bridge, as she was clearly expecting something different.

Modgud does give a hug heartily and pats Thor solidly between the shoulder blades where his short white cape does nothing great. "Your singer is freezing and the metal one's going to seize up soon at this rate." Her frosty gaze passes over Carol. "She looks comfortable, though." The butt of her spear grates upon the planks under the bridge. "So be it, Thor! I shall permit you to pass unto the Queen's halls on a sure path. Don't stray from it. No spellwork either." She glances back at Lambert. "But a skin of wine would be welcome."

The wolf moves to sit by her side, his head reaching just below her shoulder. He stares at them with his tongue hanging out of his maw. My, what sharp teeth he has.

Loki nods to Amora. "I know a way. And if that fails, I know a sure way to get us back, one that none here could deny the power of." Loki assures his fellow green-loving Asgardian. Then a "Good." to Bucky. "Kai will be pleased you came." The helmed godling steps a little closer to Lambert, guarding him from the wolf. "You have brought enough wine for what matters." He assures to the muttering goat-man. The eerie light glints off his horns and he watches Thor and Modgrud…and the wolf, with the eyes of a serpent. Though Thor comes with frivolity and happy words, lying his face off, it is Loki who displays an honest measure of 'if you don't let us pass, we have a problem' in his silent, be-caped stance. As the guardian allows them passage, he moves like a shadow forwards, on long, lean limbs, while dust kicks at his cape and ripples it sideways…a tug towards the river that is ignored by 700lbs of 'frost giant'. He…for one, does not seem cold.

Hahhahhahowwwww are you doing giant wolf. Lambert stares. Satyrs are hunters of a kind, but that is beyond him. He nods to Loki, listening to him, then steps forward with a florid bow to offer the satyr-brewed wine across. A taste like summer honey, fragrant with lavender and hyssop. And a kick like a mule with a grudge. His breathing is a little over-fast on the frosty air. Maybe from that saucy music he can hear! Actually, probably just from nerves. Wolf teeth. So he ducks back near Loki fast afterwards again.

Carol actually smiles at the wolf, not looking too afraid of that, as she flashes a grin also to Modgrud, "Well, compared to the depths of outer space, this isn't all that bad." Despite what she said earlier, as she walks along with the group across the bridge, "And thank you for the courtesy. It's much appreciated." So she doesn't know that much about Norse gods, but hey, when in doubt be polite, right?

Modgud thrusts her spear out behind her. Wisps of steam and crystals form on the savage tip, and a slow threading burst of glacial light moves before her. Its weary hues begin blue and turn instantly silver at the other side. The group will need to rush to keep the bow-wave in sight. Even Carol's moving speed will be pressed without hastening to a run. The plus: no one slips on the ice that surrenders into a flat, colourless plain of duns and beaten clay, bereft of anything like a tree or glistening tower. In the shining path of the guardian laid out for them, seeing anything at all is very difficult until their route abruptly stops. High, terrible walls burst up from the ground in a curious ziggurat-like formation. Slabs rear up many dozens of feet into the air and the long stretch goes in either direction. Spiked metal adorns the tops, and dull banners hang flat in the air. Each of them marks symbols, repeated over and anew: the Hala star, the hammer, the syrinx, the red star, the green leaf and golden spindle, and curving golden horns.

A table sits on a long rectangular carpet with high-backed chairs laid out. The thing fair groans underneath a banquet worthy of any in Odin's hall, right down to the mead laid out. Piles of fruit on metal dishes are one gift, and another, things that might be outright impossible for mortal eyes to understand. Though there is a crystalline apple there, enclosed in a font of Freyan honey.

Casually seated in a dun seat herself, the Queen in her brachiated headdress and jade cloak reaching the ground. She isn't in battle armour so much as a long black gown. Others are around her, a skeleton crew of Aesir in attire nearly identical to Thor's, in fact. They're not so much to serve as watch all cardinal points.

Amora released a breath as Loki spoke, and then, promptly, was moving forward toward the guardian and Thor. At the mention of not using spells? She scowled, her lips pursed into a thin line. Yet she said nothing, only following along at a clip as they moved beyond the bridge and into the hall of the dead. She pushed back her hood, revealing her golden locks that flowed freely behind her.

Yet Amora held her tongue, she did not speak, and did kept her hands at her side. Her gaze scanned the room, and she kept herself nearer to Thor than anyone else in the room. Her figure dipping into a low curtsey when appropriate, and she did not move until otherwise bid.

Thor pauses at the entrance to the castle to address the allies, even Bucky, the latecomer. "Mind yourself here. Hela lays claim to the soul of the Aesir, but she can kill anyone who offends her easily enough. This is her realm as much as Asgard is Odin's. Tresspass or insult her at extreme peril." His lips thin. "Do not eat anything that is not offered with her full hospitality. Do not drink anything." He starts to walk, then turns back. "Don't touch anything." Step, turn again, lurching the entourage to a halt. "On reflection, try not to even breathe too much. Envision yourself as mice huddled under grass while the owl hunts."

Loki gets a brotherly nod, Amora's arm is squeezed gently, and Thor nudges Loki to stand shoulder to shoulder with him at the head of the little column of people. "I hope your silver tongue is well gilded today," he mutters— and in they march. Thor stops a polite distance from Hela, nudges Loki, and ducks his shoulders in a bow with as much courtesy as he can muster.

Lambert seems to have the mouse part down pat. Though he does glance back at his backpack full of baklava, spanakopita, and more, and then he just grins at all of the Powers and the Marvels and Gods. They got this. …right?

Carol nods slightly towards Thor, though upon seeing Hela upon her throne, she actually gives the goddess a Kree salute, then bows deeply towards her before straightening. She can't help but stare around at everything, since… well, she's in a Hall of a Goddess. Not exactly typical even for a mortal of Carol's ilk.

And part of that possible problem is Bucky, who stands comfortably hipshot, until it's time for them to move. He's apparently appointed himself Loki's particular bodyguard, even though this is more or less like a chihuahua trying to guard the flank of a tiger.

Once they're in the royal presence, as it were, he's got manners enough to remove mask, goggles and cap, tucking them away. Yep, still Bucky, apparently alive, if grim and tired. All this mess is his fault, insists that part of his conscience that just won't ever shut up. As if the dark elves had nothing to do with it. He bows as gracefully as one can with a rifle still slung over one shoulder.

Outside, in fact. The skies are too a weary shade where dusk has settled without any of its beauty and none of the stars to lighten them. The feast is in open air and not entirely enclosed within any chamber except for the walls of Helheim at their back. That and the whole width of the plane separating the bridge and this place.

Hela curls her dark fingers to her palm and examines the party. The shadows bleed over her face beneath that impressive headdress like so much soot, and meeting her pupilless eyes is an exercise in staring one's own definite mortality in the face. Shadowy skirts ripple around her legs. "Asgardians. Humans. Olympian-spawn." It matters not what she says, she's understood in their native tongue. "Thor Odinson, you come in spirit of concord. Partake freely of the table, secure in the All-Father's name." It is the closest she will give to an absolute promise, and hospitality by very archaic standards. It's not a palace they are in, after all.

Her twilit countenance turns to Loki. "Make your petition."

Loki glances over to Thor, then back to Hela. He lifts his chin. "Goddess of the Reviled Dead…harbinger of rampant and glorious doom, She of the Death Helm and keeper of the keys of Hel. Great Hela, Lady of your Realm, I have come, with all this entourage, to tell you of a /grievous/ act." Bitter though he may have been in getting here, once Loki is given a little reign to start a good, solid, monologue, he hits his stride very quickly. His lips pour with silver, trying to nip at pride and insecurity both, twisting the tale to suit the injustice not to himself, but to paint another tale instead, "Malekith has used you. Through wiles and monsters, he has put into your care the worst of traps. Among your legions, you could hardly value one, lone, peaceful elf. However, Malekith knows his worth, and he set him here on purpose, to draw us into conflict, to cause YOU strife. " Loki tilts his head and paces some, gesturing with his hands as he speaks, "What Malekith may have against you, I know not, but…I can assuredly offer to help you find out. I was planning some vengeance for his misdeeds as it is…adding your request to the matter would be nothing." He looks up from his pacing at the queen. "But we should not let Malekith manipulate US in this way. Give back the elf…to us, and all of his plans are thwarted." His emerald cape sways around his feet when he stops moving and stares at the woman to see her answer to his words that caress like sibilant neumes.

Amora unbends her personage as Hela greets the party at large. She straightened, keeping her gaze on the two princes before her for a long moment before she drew back at the offer of food under the protection of the All-father's name. Her gaze settled on Loki as she kept from putting her back to the throne, listening with care to his words.

Her green eyed gaze swung back toward Thor after a moment, she had heard it before, waiting for him to partake of the offered feast before she so much as dared to lift a hand in the direction of the table.

After all, rank mattered in the most formal of senses.

That makes Bucky's lips tighten, that plea for Kai. He's visibly restraining himself, all too aware this one of those places where a New Yorker's bluntness won't serve anyone well. He doesn't step forward to partake - low man on the totem pole here.

Thor heaves a sigh of relief at Hela's polite welcome. It's all in Loki's hands now, and he turns to beckon the others. "It's safe to eat and rest at the table," he explains to them in a low murmur. "Hela binds herself to us with the ancient laws of hospitality. Rest and recover your wits and strength," he advises them. "As long as none offer her harm or insult, we are safe." He picks up an apple and takes a quick bite, and lifts it at Hela in a silent toast of thanks, chawing noisily.

Okay, so he's not the most REFINED diplomat out there. Thor grips Bucky's shoulder in passing and nods at the man. "My thanks for your timely presence, sirrah. Loki speaks well of you— and friend Lambert, you have been a boon aid." He looks to Carol and winks. "Captain Marvel, you're looking in fine form," he says.

It's all a blatant attempt to distract people from the real mission, which all hangs on Loki's powers of persuasion.

Lambert lowers his head respectfully, and he keeps it lowered. Maybe fanging a pomegranate at a Goddess is not a great idea? Though he sniffs. He can smell food. Mead of the gods. Old style oranges, when they were sweeter, pineapple, fish raw in salt, and meat cooked. Lambert actually has to wipe his mouth - though he does half turn his head to listen to Loki speak. He lets those words trickle down past his ears, and he allows them to lull him. You know. Enough so that his hands do not reach towards one of those goblets. It all looks so _good_. Hey, and then Thor is biting an apple, and he says "Oh, well, thankyou!" Mead, please. Mead, and a toast to the host silently (he's no barbarian!). Lambert asides to the Asgardians, low-voiced "Is it polite to offer things here - like the sweets - or rude?" He does not _want_ to be rude. And his voice is kept very soft.

Carol smiles over at Thor, "Thanks. You're looking good as well." She actually blushes a bit at the wink from Thor, then sits down next to Lambert, mainly because she's more comfortable with the satyr than occasionally-dead-assassins-who-spark-complicated-feelings or deities. She takes part of the feast, at Hela's invitation, gazing back towards the goddess for a moment… at least long enough to say, "My gratitude for your hospitality." One bit of advice from her father, or rather one of the only bits of good advice from the man, is always be polite. And she's decided in this environment, that's a good way to avoid becoming a permanent resident. Carol avoids the mead, but if there's something without alcohol, she'll partake of that gladly.

The Aesir in Hela's company maintain their vigil. Eyes slide appreciatively over each. Curiosity pins their looks on Mjolnir. They all stare at the rifle on the Winter Soldier's back with fascination. But they do not speak or intercede.

The dread queen of Niflheim does not stir herself from her chair during the petition, similar in make and size to the other around the table. Everyone has a place. Her food is superlative, even by Asgardian standards, and explosions of rare flavour are an epicurean delight for the unprepared. Something of most realms can be found, the sole absence being a wood plate. Fear, as it happens, can be the finest seasoning and she exudes an aura of pure terror at the deepest psychological levels. Hela is death incarnate for many.

"Well-spoken." Her verdict is an unruffled magnetic pull on iron in the blood and stirring, slow alto whispers. She looks from Loki to Thor. "Though the House of Odin believes a dark elf hunter dupes me?" A heavy, compound black berry is pulled from the dish nearest her end of the table. She turns it around in her fingers, the juice welling up from the pressure. "The elf never crossed the Gjoll. For a debt owed me, Loki Odinson, you can learn who has him."

Her other hand moves. She flicks a token into the air, a coin that soars between Amora and Thor. It's nothing fancy at all, just a piece probably minted in the first years of Odin's reign. "Thor Odinson, I will give your realm peace in exchange for your personal favour. Take your band to the instigator of all this, and lay that on his eyes after he no longer disrupts the World Tree."

Loki ducks his chin and smiles, "If your servants betray you, and divert your due souls, then it is you who need us…and favor enough. You will have nothing in addition from my brother, or I, or any in this company. If the elf is not with you, then your authority here stands challenged. We are ready to defend your title." Loki spreads his hands.

Amora distractedly picks up a tankard of mead, a piece of bread and a slice of cheese. She nibbled it, her gaze shooting repeatedly over toward Loki. A sharp inhale followed as her gaze traced back toward Hella and she forced herself to sit down. Her hands mechanically held the food before her and she swallowed the hard lump in throat.

So it was as she had suspected. Kai had not stepped into the realm of the dead after all. Someone was messing with the order of things.

Green eyes fluttered closed for a moment, but she held her tongue. Even as Loki bargained and bartered.

Thor's greeting of Bucky earns the Thunderer a surprised look. Clearly, that wasn't a reaction he expected. But he's playing along, at least, setting aside the rifle, carefully, and picking up an apple with the hand that isn't metal, nibbling at it tentatively. But he's visibly got his ears pricked to know who has Kai now. Malekith? Someone else?

Thor catches the coin easily and examines it in his palm, then holds it up at Hela and tucks it into his pocket.

"My Lady Hela, a mighty bear might not realize 'tis a tiny rat that sneaks into her den each night to steal her berries," he remarks, carefully. "Not because she is unaware, but because such tiny cuts are beneath her dignity."

He looks around the crew, then at Hela. "What threatens Hela's realm, threats Asgard, and threatens all the Nine Realms. An interloper must be chastised," he remarks, speaking for the benefit of everyone present. Probably for history itself, too. "I can not volunteer my allies for such a trip; their obligation to me was but to your doorstep. But I will turn my force and favor towards this goal, and bring along those who are inclined to aid me."

Fair speech, and it looks like it took a bit out of Thor, who immediately reaches for a stein of ale and takes a few quick gulps.

Lambert is really enjoying that mead. In that he has had a good two or three glasses of it, and some of the bread, and of course other dainties. Do not look at the ears - those are pointed towards Loki and the bargaining, just as Bucky's are. But far more noticably, since they are furry and twitch. Lambert's face turns into an expression of brief ecstasy at the taste of everything. Wait, hang on. Allies. Trip? World Tree? _Does_ the World Tree have delicious acorns? Hmm.

Carol avoided the alcohol due to her own preferences, but the rest of the feast was subject to sampling by her. Fortunately, her own experience with Doctor Doom didn't traumatize her into anorexia, as she does try a little bit of everything. After all, when would this opportunity come again?

Actually, best not to think about that

Hela eats the berry in one bite. Whatever blood-shaded juice might drip out does not mark her dark mouth or her gloved hands. "Niflheim nor Hel has cause for a quarrel over a loose ljosalf." The statement is bland and direct, smoothly offered. "My condition of Loki of Asgard is unchanged. Knowledge has its price. The terms are more than fair." She does not move another inch once her gloved elbow stills upon the arm of the chair. Amora may be naturally more radiant, but the darkness has its own poise too.

Her silence lasts some seconds further to roll over Thor's offer in turn. His companions reactions rouse a mild interest. They do not receive any statements directly; that's for the crown prince and him alone. "I accept such terms. Choose your companions as you would. Be it your responsibility to place the coin on the enemy. The token will lead you to Yggdrasil's bane." There is no warmth in that smile, and there probably never has been since she was a girl, a thing of empty beauty and horror. It slips over Lambert's head to Carol, then lingers a second longer on Bucky like she's marking him in some fashion.

"Swing Mjolnir true."

"I need your explicit word that if I give mine, and defeat who has him, that you WILL release him back to living again, and not with a time limit or provision. I have come for the soul of the elf, his life again, and let all be a witness that my bargain in this is for that. Hjuki leaves with us, alive, without further tie excepting his own /natural/ death. If that is agreed, then I will accept the term to defeat your foe." Loki answers grimly.

To compare the Goddess of Desire to the Goddess of the dead was to compare the beauty of a sunny day to that of a cold and clear night. Impossible to do, for their beauty lay in their differences. Amora herself kept quiet through the exchange, she offered nothing. Though a hand reached out toward Thor to settle on his arm after he spoke. A faint trace of a smile pulling at her lips as Hela accepted his terms.

"You know, I shall stand with you, my Prince." She murmured softly, and sipped at her mead immediately after.

She wasn't allowed to cast spells and that itch was a constant at the back of her mind, so she filled the need with her tankard clasped tightly in a white knuckled grip. Even as she offered Thor a smile as sweet as the honeyed wine she drank. Even as her gaze lingered on Loki as he spoke.

He makes the mistake of meeting her gaze for an instant, and then looking away. AS much an active of submission as a wolf rolling over to expose his throat. Bucky's silent, still….but his gaze drifts to Loki. Absent Kai, that trickster prince is the closest thing he has to a liege-lord….and the ally here he knows best.

"The prince has offered his arm already. I accepted. You will be in my debt in the future to know who holds the elf. You would be better served to concern yourself with that. My promises to restore his soul back to the living world would be ash and empty night if I made them. He is not in my keep to put back together like that." Hela says. She pushes her feet beneath her seat and stands. With her movement, the Aesir shades in attendance stir themselves from their vigil and fall in line close to the green-mantled woman.

"Do the other guests seek anything?"

Thor turns around wildly, shaking his head at everyone at Hela's suggestion of a bargain. Politeness be damned for a moment!

Thor rests a hand on Loki's shoulder, staring at Hela as he mulls over her words— lots of little pieces start coming into play all at once. Names. Missing pieces. Strange little facts, parts out of play.

"Let us dispense with the pleasantries of favors and debts, Lady Hela," he suggests. "If my brother agrees to help me find and defeat the foe who threatens all the Eternal Realm, then would you consider our mutual efforts a fair compensation for your knowledge?" he presses her.

Lambert has actually put down his goblet (better not ask how much he has had - his cheeks are flushed). He is leaning forward, eagerly listening, his eyes bright. Probably with terror as well! Nevertheless, this is still fascinating and wonderful in its own way. So all _he_ says is "No your Majesty - I mean - wait -" What, Lambert no. "I will gladly trade the secret of brewing Satyr wine with hyssop that does not taste bitter in exchange for knowledge on how to brew _this_ mead. But that's it. I mean. This is wonderful mead. The acidity is perfect." His voice is only slurring just a little. Then he blinks fuzzily "Oh, that. Oh, well, I'd give up my wine recipe for Kai and Loki." Lambert sniffs touching his face drunkenly "Romance," he sniffs again "Oh God. Someone give me a hug. It's _too much_!"

|ROLL| Hela +rolls 1d100 for: 84

Carol blinks a bit as she regards Hela, speaking quietly, "Dark, beautiful, and terrible as the Night, Fair as the Sea, Dreadful as the Storm and Lightning, Stronger than the Foundations of the Earth. All shall love you and despair." She then blushes a bit red as she realizes she actually said that aloud, and says, "Forgive my presumption, no offense was meant. Quite the opposite in fact. But no, I have nothing to ask at this time." She then mutters something about never reading Lord of the Rings again before making a trip to Niflheim.

Loki says lowly to Thor, "I agreed to the terms, brother. I did try to free us from…further complications, but it is best to know and be gone from here, while things still fare well eno-" He is cut off by the oath and bargain of the satyr, green eyes moving from the dealing goat…to the flattering Kree with an even wider look on his face. Then, VERY QUICKLY, he turns to Hela and says quite loudly, "The offer is accepted! Tell us who has Hjuki and where to find him!"

Amora rose, her chair scraping back as she was on her feet the second that Hela asked for if there was other business. Her gaze swung toward Thor, her lips thinning. "Tis another Pantheon, is it not? One that is angry Loki revealed his personage, and all of Asgard to Midgard. The Queen of Hel has no reason to attack her own jewels in Valholl. The jackal warriors, the Wild Hunt out of season, Kai's being taken before his time and his absence.. The pact between the realms was broken. No gods may steal worshippers.. and with more belief in Asgard, the Aesir.. more souls go to this realm." She whispered toward Thor, her eyebrows lofting upwards as she settled a hand upon his arm.

Then she strode forward, bowing low before the Queen until she was acknowledged. "I would speak to you. It shall take but a moment." Her voice carried smoothly, as clear and firm as possible. Then she did something perhaps even more unexpected. She knelt.

"I would ask, if there is a soul in your realm. If he crossed the bridge. Do you rule over the soul of Donald Blake?"

Just in case that might lead to some other sort of bargaining that ends up with their vintner stuck down here forever, Bucky reaches over, snags Lambert with his metal arm, and drags him over for a hug. The gesture's less affection than dragging the satyr out of the line of fire, as it were.

One of the Aesir cants his head. He stands up the straighter and puts his hand to the great wall enfolding the deeper realm. The dread queen halts at that swaggering offer by the epicurean of all people. "Gnistatyvall sends her affections upon you," Hela says after a noteworthy pause. "Your favour is noted. Apila, servant of Beyla, can instruct you."

Carol is next on that block, her own deaths captured in those deep, cold eyes. Look too long and the reflections may grow far too clear for comfort. "Draw truths from fiction and your path will come close by again. The faith between your ribs is not the shield you believe it to be."

"Amora Incantara, he has not crossed the Gjoll. You wish more, then your aid is my price. Terms to be deciphered after this moment." Hela raises her palm.

The bleakness of her coronet proves darker than the sky above, the harsh branches standing in for crescent moons and gentle forests clouded along the horizon. She stares off dark and deep into the distance even as the realm starts to shuffle around them. Where flat planes stood, developing terrain forge paths at converging angles. Mountains spear out of a rumpled earthen carpet, leveled off flat by some unseen knife. The deepening chasm gives a squared off entrance and a path paved in black stones directly ahead, then turning immediately ninety degrees left. Ziggurats flip on their crowns. "Your jackals are a lie, bought easily. Wepwawet plagued Valhalla, as have you seen for yourself. The einherjar rightly mine are dispatched upon Hades. Griffins storm Annwn. The shadow hounds afflict Niflhel. We are meant to be at one another's throats. The All-father is being provoked to war and by err, it nearly came here. Go forth and find Czernobog."

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